This issue’s Employee Spotlight is about Deetra Watson. After 17 years of experience in the accounting profession, Deetra was recently promoted to the role of principal at Blackman & Sloop.

Deetra joined Blackman & Sloop in 2005 and most recently served as a senior manager in the assurance department. She oversees audit and assurance engagements with a primary focus on clients in the not-for-profit and education sectors. She also performs audits of governmental and nongovernmental grants and is a frequent speaker on not-for-profit accounting and management topics. Visit this link to read more about Deetra’s promotion.

As part of our Employee Spotlight, we talked with Deetra about her time at Blackman & Sloop, overcoming challenges, advice she has for new CPAs, and much more. We invite you to take a few minutes to get to know our new principal, Deetra Watson.

1. Why did you choose Blackman & Sloop?

After working 4 years in the Big 4 and 2 years in private industry, I was looking for a change in my career.  Private industry provided me with the work-life balance I was looking for after leaving the Big 4 environment; however, I missed the feeling of a new challenge every day and continual growth that I received from public accounting.  I knew if I was going to take that leap back into public accounting it was going have to be somewhere special and I honestly did not think that type of place existed.  I had never heard of Blackman & Sloop, but was advised by an entrusted friend that this really could be that special place that I was looking for.  I interviewed with the partners and knew right away this was a different type of public accounting firm.  I felt they were going to give me the opportunity to work on the types of clients that I enjoyed, foster my professional and personal growth, and allow me to start and raise a family.  I couldn’t envision how I could go wrong with a decision to give Blackman & Sloop a try.  Here we are 11 years later and I do not regret one minute of the journey.

2. What challenges did you overcome as you grew as a professional?

The biggest challenge that I have faced and continue to face in my professional career is accepting me for me.  I have always been a goal driven person with a very competitive spirit.  However, to reach my professional goals I have had to step out of my comfort zone.  For almost my entire career, I would look at other successful professionals and think I wish I was more outgoing, assertive, “fill in the blank”.  I thought that was how I had to be in order to be successful and reach my goals.  It is truly exhausting to try to be something that you are not!  It has just been within the last two years that I have learned to accept and embrace my quiet, introverted, soft spoken nature.  I no longer look at other successful people and wish to be like them.  I don’t do things simply to get ahead anymore.  I only do them if they are areas that I want to improve in my life.  I have learned that the accounting profession is made up of all different types of people and it is this diversity that makes it such a great career choice.  There is a place for me in accounting just the way that I am and I am good enough!

3. What advice do you have for new CPAs?

I do a lot of college recruiting and my number one advice to those just starting their careers in accounting or new CPAs is to always go with your gut and trust your instincts.  Accounting is a great career and can take you in any field, industry, or specialty you can think of.  If you just apply yourself and work hard, you can go anywhere or do anything that you want.  If a specific work place, environment, or area of accounting does not feel right to you, then trust that feeling and try something else.  But don’t give up!  The world is your oyster.

4. What do you do to relax after a hectic auditing season?

Family is extremely important to me.  As crazy as it may seem, nothing relaxes me more than being able to spend some uninterrupted quality time with my immediate family.  As physically exhausting as it may be keeping up with my three very active sons, husband, parents, and sister; I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  At the end of the day when everyone has gone to bed, I might even sneak in a few pages of a good book or a good ole episode of the Golden Girls before I go off into lala land.

5. To what factors and/or people do you attribute your success?

I definitely would not be here if it were not for my parents instilling in me at an early age that I could do anything that I set my mind to.  They always encouraged me to dream big and shoot for the moon.  My supportive husband and sister are always challenging me to do more and be more and they give me the physical and emotional space to do just that.  Then there are my special friends (you all know who you are) who are the best cheering squad that any person could ever have.  Last but definitely not least, I attribute my success to my faith in God.  I would not be where I am today if I did not believe in something greater than me.  When I know I am not in control, which is quite often, I find comfort in knowing that my God is in control and is ordering my steps.

Congratulations Deetra on your new position!  Blackman & Sloop is fortunate to have you as a leader.  We look forward to your contributions to our firm as principal!!